Thursday, July 24, 2008

Topic: Secondary School Reading

10-Second Review: The status of secondary reading skills is not good.

Title: “Effective Reading Programs for Middle and High Schools: A Best-Evidence synthesis.” RE Slavin, et al. Reading Research Quarterly (July/August/September 2008), 290-322. A publication of the International Reading Association (IRA).

Quote: “Students who enter high school with poor literacy skills face long odds against graduating and going on to post-secondary education or satisfying careers. …reported (2003) that in the United States, roughly six million secondary students read far below grade level and that approximately 3,000 students drop out of U.S. high schools every day.”

Comment: The authors have tried and approved of certain specific secondary reading techniques, But have they tried a technique that is basic to all secondary reading techniques? The DRA? The Directed Reading Assignment?

1. You build the students’ background knowledge of the topic of the reading assignment. The more they know about a topic, the better they will be able to read and comprehend it.

2. Pre-teach crucial unfamiliar vocabulary—so that students will not only see the words when they encounter them, but they will know their meanings. I’ve seen research that shows students who are unfamiliar with a vocabulary word do not even see the word when they read it. Alerting students to the word ahead of time draws their attention to it.

3. Establish purpose for reading, usually in the form of questions after the students have read the title, subhead, first paragraph, first sentence of each intermediate paragraph and the last paragraph.

4. Give students the opportunity to apply what they have read in the assignment. One method is through further research of the topic on the Internet.

I agree with Olive Niles, who said many years ago that if every teacher in every high school used the directed reading assignment, there would be no reading problems in the United States. RayS.

The purpose of this blog is to share interesting ideas I have found in recent American professional publications dealing with the teaching of English at all levels, elementary, secondary and college.

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